Oddisey Knox is a warrior.
She joined the U.S. Army to serve her country, and now the 29-year-old single mom is focused on an education– specifically studying astrophysics and landing a job at a national laboratory.
Knox is among more than 30,000 women who separate from the military every year and make the transition to civilian life. Many face both financial instability and the lack of a strong, central and readily available women’s veteran community to provide support as well as a glimpse into a bright future.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense and the University of Arizona are partnering to provide women veterans like Knox with mentoring in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, subjects. The company is donating $10,000 and professional mentoring to support the initiative.
“It’s very empowering to see yourself in a place you would like to be someday,” Knox said. “When you see it, you can be it.”
The initiative launched in September with five undergraduate students, five graduate students and five veterans who work at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. They work in groups of three, with the veteran drawing on their experience and sharing knowledge in STEM.
“We’re finding that women – particularly women veterans – are underrepresented in STEM fields,” said Cody Nicholls, assistant dean of students for Military and Veteran Engagement at the University of Arizona. “Mentorship plays a key role in opening doors.”
One of the mentors is Felicia Jackson, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a senior cybersecurity technologist at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
“Women can be notoriously insecure about these areas (careers in the STEM field),” Jackson said. “Mentoring programs like this give them confidence to pursue their goals versus taking other career paths they may not be so interested in.”